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Google to take baby steps toward social networking

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/15/10 05:49 PM

We’ve been waiting for the alleged “Google Me” project to surface for a while now. Supposedly it was going to be Google’s Facebook killer, a social networking site that took on Zuckerbergia.

This despite The Goog’s not so stellar track record of launching Big New Products like Google Wave and Google Buzz (maybe the problem was how much those names sounded like laundry detergents?).

But Google Me never seems to get here. Like killer bees and the widespread adoption of the metric system, it’s always about to arrive.

Now Google’s Eric Schmidt says social networking on Google will be subtle and incremental. You’ll be able to pull in stuff from Twitter or Flickr, find out when someone saw your YouTube video. And play Farmville. Always with the Farmville. We’ll never escape Farmville.

Comments | Filed Under: google facebook twitter flickr social media Web Culture games

Growing number of people 50+ use social media

Posted: 08/27/10 11:00 AM

We tend to think the people on Facebook are young, college-aged and writing about last night’s party.  Those people are indeed there.  But, there’s another demographic increasingly using social networking sites. A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows the number of internet users 50 and older using social media has nearly doubled since last year. Same story for the number of internet users 65 and older.

This really puts in perspective something one of our recent guests John Troyer brought up in a story on Twitter, Facebook and death.

Comments | Filed Under: social media Facebook Twitter

Twitter, suicide, and journalism

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/19/10 11:29 AM

Early this morning, I got a direct message on Twitter pointing me to the Twitter feed of Seattle photojournalist Joshua Trujillo. Last night, he was driving across the Aurora Bridge, which is the second most popular spot for suicide jumpers in the United States, behind the Golden Gate Bridge. Trujillo spotted a young woman who had climbed over the rail, preparing to jump. He called 911 and then parked the car and got out to watch what happened once the police had arrived. He live tweeted what he was seeing. Here’s his account of the evening.

Comments | Filed Under: twitter

Twitter. And Facebook. And death.

Posted: 08/16/10 06:00 AM

Cheerful topic for a Monday morning, don’t you think?

Twitter has confronted the idea of death. We all have to eventually, right? The microblogging site has announced a new policy for when users die. Once the death is confirmed, the account can come down and they can send the family an archive of the person’s tweets. Or the family can choose to just leave the account alone.

Facebook offers a third choice: leave the web presence there but turn it into a memorial to the deceased. No new friends would be added but those who were already there can post things to the person’s wall.

It’s kind of a weird time for social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a regular part of our society, which inevitably involves all aspects of society, including death. But while these sites are good at organizing parties and making jokes, they’ve never had a good framework for the big inevitability of death itself.

We talk to Ira Brooker and Kim Osland, a couple of our Twitter followers, about how they’ve encountered and dealt with death through social media. We also check in with John Troyer, Deputy Director at the Center for Death And Society at the University of Bath in England. We get his thoughts on ritual, technology, and how we’re dealing with death in the digital world.

Comments | Filed Under: Twitter facebook

Wikileaks criticized by human rights groups

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/10/10 11:01 AM

The Wall Street Journal reports on new criticisms of Wikileaks coming from a variety of human rights groups.  At issue is the redaction of names of Afghans who are helping the US effort against the Taliban. The groups, including Amnesty International, are concerned that by publishing these names, Wikileaks is putting lives at risk:

“Taliban representatives have said publicly that they are searching the documents and plan to punish people who have helped U.S. forces.”

Wikileaks is taking most of its responses to Twitter.

Comments | Filed Under: wikileaks twitter

Twitter saves a life

 by John Moe // Posted: 08/09/10 05:26 PM

Sure, the stereotype of Twitter is a bunch of people typing about what they had for lunch that day. But Leigh Fazzina is a pretty big fan of the microblogging site. She was in a triathlon, got lost on a bike, wrecked, couldn’t move, and tweeted her way to safety.

(via BoingBoing)

Comments | Filed Under: twitter

Gotta Hunch?

Posted: 08/06/10 08:08 AM

The internet thinks it knows you. What products you like, what movies, music, what you want to buy next. And it advertises to you accordingly, with all kinds of junk that it thinks you will want. And the internet thinks you’ve told it all there is to know about you by leaving behind data of where you shop, where you visit, a sort of accidental bread crumb trail.

The website Hunch had a big relaunch this week and it approaches things a bit differently. On Hunch, you create a profile of yourself, either directly or by importing your Twitter or Facebook information, and then you answer questions about yourself. Everything from age and location to what kind of lettuce you like to your thoughts on dolphins. There are tons of questions, you could answer them all day.

Then you ask the site a question, maybe about what car to buy, and it makes recommendations based on who you are.

Hunch was co-founded by Caterina Fake who joins us to talk about what she’s trying to get it to do. Fake is also the co-founder of the photo site Flickr, so she knows a thing or two about web collaboration.

We also check in with Andreas Weigend, former lead scientist at, a company known for making recommendations. We ask him about whether data provided by an individual provides a more accurate view of who they are than data gathered surreptitiously.

Comments | Filed Under: facebook twitter data mining

Greetings from what Twitter tells us is the saddest place in America

 by John Moe // Posted: 07/22/10 12:09 PM

A bunch of smarties from Harvard University and Northeastern University took data from 300 million tweets from around the country and inferred mood for different regions throughout the day. If you’re in California, life seems great. If you’re in Minnesota, like us, you’re sad all the time and you just never ever get happy.

Comments | Filed Under: twitter

Colors? Check. Shapes? Check. Social networking skillz? Check.

 By Jeff Horwich // Posted: 07/21/10 06:00 AM

In Australia, at least, parents are convinced social networks – Facebook, Twitter, ‘RooSpace (trust me, it’s huge Down Under) – are ruining their children’s brains. Half of ten-year-olds already have a social network profile. Usage stats are similar here in the U.S., and no doubt parental worry runs high here as well. After all, t(w)eens and online life have proven a combustible combination.

And yet…or perhaps because of that…new social networks are springing up all the time for the kiddies, including the new Togetherville, which pushes the demographic as low as six-years-old – or lower, as CEO Mandeep Dhilllon tells us in this episode. Toddlers are already tugging on our shirt hems to see what we’re doing all the time on the com-poo-ter. Why not give them a safe space to build up their online IQ?

OK, I’m listening, I’m listening…

One of the innovative things Togetherville brings to the table is the way it lets…nay, requires…parents get involved in the process. Parents and kids register as a team – parents using their Facebook log-in (via Facebook Connect – the two sites are totally independent). There’s a parallel level of interaction where parents connect with the parents of their kids’ friends.

But hold up. Isn’t this just another reason for kids to nurture computer addiction? Shouldn’t they be out collecting bugs to put in jars or something? No doubt there are child psychologists who might find this whole trend deeply troubling. But they would be somewhat blind to the modern world, says psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge, who says social media literacy can’t start too young.

I’ve got a two-year-old, and this topic got me a little riled up thinking about it. Now after doing the show, I’m not sure what to think. We’d love to hear your experiences – have your kids tried out Imbee, Togetherville, Club Penguin, or any of the other kid-focused social networks?

(Guest-hosted by Jeff Horwich.)

Comments | Filed Under: social networks facebook twitter

Internet may get credit/blame for changing FCC regulation on cussing

 by John Moe // Posted: 07/14/10 11:33 AM

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC’s indecency rules are unconstitutional (a violation of first amendment rights) and vague. Among the reasons cited by the court: the internet -

“We face a media landscape that would have been almost unrecognizable in 1978. Cable television was still in its infancy. The Internet was a project run out of the Department of Defense with several hundred users. Not only did YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter not exist, but their founders were either still in diapers or not yet conceived.”

Part of the reason for the original ruling was that broadcast television was pervasive in our lives and there was no ability to block it. But now broadcast TV exists in a media landscape that also contains cable and the internet as well as parental controls.

Comments | Filed Under: fcc youtube facebook Twitter

Will the Fail Whale eat Twitter's future?

Posted: 06/17/10 08:24 AM

The social media site Twitter has become huge. 100 million plus members, 30 billion posts last month. Even if you don’t tweet, it’s become an important source of real time news reporting and a way of keeping in touch with people.

But have you heard of the Fail Whale? It’s a cartoon illustration of a whale being carried through the sky by a bunch of birds. It’s what Twitter users see when the site has crashed from too much traffic. That’s been happening a lot lately.

So much so that Twitter apologized on their blog:

From a site stability and service outage perspective, it’s been Twitter’s worst month since last October.

They say they traffic from the World Cup is partially to blame.

Seems like a good time to take stock of Twitter. It’s popular, sure, growing, it’s been around too long to be considered a fad. But what is it and what will it be? We talk with Julio Ojeda-Zapata, tech columnist for the St Paul Pioneer Press and author of Twitter Means Business and David Carr, media columnist for The New York Times.

Comments | Filed Under: twitter

Tweets of Old

 by John Moe // Posted: 06/09/10 11:24 AM

We spoke to the proprietor of the Twitter feed @TweetsOfOld on today’s show. It’s an odd, hilarious, and strangely touching trip back through newspapers of long ago where one realizes that what’s said on Twitter today isn’t perhaps as novel as we might expect. Julia Suits, who compiles the ancient tweets, reads a few of her favorites.

Listen to “Tweets of Old”

Comments | Filed Under: twitter history

Twitter introduces their own url shortener

 by John Moe // Posted: 06/09/10 11:12 AM

You only have 140 characters to use in a tweet and you don’t want to blow that on a lengthy url of some site you want to tell people about. So a lot of Twitterers use sites like or where you can make shorter links that redirect to that site. Yesterday, Twitter announced it’s own url shortener that will automatically condense your url within the tweet so you have more of the 140 to play with and you don’t have to go to a different site to get the shorter version. This keeps more visitors at Twitter and lets them analyze which sites their users are posting most, data mine that, learn it, maybe advertise with it. Unless I’m missing something, it completely dooms

Comments | Filed Under: twitter

Tech News In Brief - 6/4/10

 by John Moe // Posted: 06/04/10 11:44 AM

Google data collection mess gets messier
China blocking Foursquare

U.S. Cyber Command wants to ‘operate freely’ to protect and defend computer resources

Is YouTube about to offer live streaming?
Because shouldn’t everything be more like Chatroulette?

Microsoft Patch Tuesday is coming. Stores have had decorations up for months, of course

Could Microsoft be buying AOL?
“Welcome! You’ve got Ballmer!”

Get energy from the stars

Car charging stations coming to town

Gadget tells you when you need a break. Thanks, gadget

Comments | Filed Under: google foursquare security youtube microsoft twitter aol energy

Fake BP Twitterer sort of comes forward.

 by John Moe // Posted: 06/04/10 11:38 AM

The Twitter account at @BPGlobalPR is not run by BP and isn’t really a pr account. It’s parody of a pr person trying to spin the disaster in the Gulf. Not only is it quite funny, it gets ten times the followers of the real BP, somewhere around 115,000. Now the person writing it has stepped forward to explain why he/she is doing it. At the same time, the shirts and other items sold through a link given on the site have brought in $10,000 for cleanup efforts.

Listener and twitter pal @ScareQuotes points us to a Time exploration of fake Twitter accounts as literary genre.

Comments | Filed Under: twitter bp

Wasn't following him before, probably gonna now

 by John Moe // Posted: 06/03/10 04:39 PM

Gizmodo points out that the Prime Minister of Japan resigned and then headed straight to Twitter where he asked people to keep following him:

I announced my intention to resign as Prime Minister today, in order to make the Democratic Party clean again for the sake of the people. From now on I will stop being PM but want to continue to tweet as a normal person. Please keep following me…

Maybe he’ll be Facebook friends with me! We can play Farmville!

Comments | Filed Under: twitter sadness

Fake BP Twitterer sort of comes forward

 by John Moe // Posted: 06/03/10 02:12 PM

Boy, there are a lot of wiggly words in that headline. Such are the times we live in. The Twitter account @BPGlobalPR has well over 100,000 followers. It’s not really from BP, it’s a series of jokes from the point of view of a fake PR person trying to spin the oil spill into a positive. BP has even tried to shut it down. No dice.

Now the author of the feed has come forward, though still under a pseudonym, to talk about why he’s doing it.

If you think the point of this story is to beat dogs with sticks, then I’m guessing you probably still think I work for BP as well.

The point of this story is that if someone is terrorizing your neighborhood, sometimes it’s alright to grab a stick and take a swing. Social media, and in this particular case Twitter, has given average people like me the ability to use and invent all sorts of brand new sticks.

Comments | Filed Under: Twitter

Tech News In Brief - 5/25/10

 by John Moe // Posted: 05/25/10 11:43 AM

Twitter wants money from businesses and media companies. Those Fail Whale ropes aren’t cheap.

Wal-Mart cuts price of iPhone 3GS to $97 Comes with a built in app for kicking yourself for not waiting for the new iPhone coming out next month.

Engadget looks at the tweets of some actors and decides the new iPhone will definitely have video chat. Which, okay.

Facebook being used by birth parents to track down adopted children. Public profiles being public and all.

AT&T makes Wi-Fi free in Times Square

Firefox add-on lets you remove all mention of Justin Bieber from your internet experience. At last, technology has matured.

Another suicide at Foxconn . Ninth suicide this year.

Facebook privacy controls change tomorrow .

Congress will review Communications Law. Current legislation was established way before the computer was invented.

Stoplights stop your engine. Sure, let’s give the robots control of our cars. What’s the worst that could happen?

Comments | Filed Under: twitter apple iphone facebook firefox china government

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